And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying:
Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
Hosanna in the highest--Matt. 21, 9
Our Lord, the Expected Redeemer and Messiah
Art thou He that art to come?--MATT. xi. 3,
I. Expectation of the Redeemer and Messiah, 1. The fall of Adam and the promise of a Saviour. 2. Promises renewed to Abraham and the Patriarchs. 3. Birth of the Saviour and the circumstances of His life portrayed in type and prophecy. 4. All these prophecies were fulfilled in our Lord.
II. Our Lord's mission as Redeemer expressed in His name Jesus, 1. This name signifies Saviour, and was given to our Lord by divine command (Luke i. 31; Matt. i. 20, 2i). 2. Suitableness of this name for our Lord. It was given to Josue in the Old Testament, who had delivered the chosen people from their enemies and led them into the promised land. How much more appropriate it was in the case of our Lord, who freed the world from sin and opened to all the gates of heaven!
III. Our Lord's mission as Messiah expressed in the meaning of the name Christ, 1. Christ signifies the anointed, and was given in the Old Testament to kings, priests, and prophets, and was expressive of their offices. Our Lord was anointed by His Divinity and plenitude of grace (Acts x. 38). 2. Christ was the Great Prophet, as the supreme Revealer and Teacher of God's will to man. 3. He is our High-priest who reconciles us to God, offering Himself for us on Calvary and in the Mass (Heb. vi. 20). 4. He is our spiritual King, governing and protecting His Church (Luke i. 32; Apoc. xix. 16).
LESSONS. 1. Gratitude to Christ our Saviour, King, Priest, and Prophet. 2. Preparation for the feast of Christmas by imitating the penance and austerity of John the Baptist, and his love and loyalty to Christ.
ARTICLE II OF THE CREED
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
The Great Blessings Which Flow from the Belief and Profession of this Article
Not long after, to preserve the memory of this promise. God renewed the same covenant with Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. When in a vision Jacob saw a ladder standing on earth, and its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending by it,(7) he also heard the Lord saying to him, as the Scripture testifies: "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land, wherein thou sleepest, I will give to thee and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth: thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and thy seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed."(8)
Nor did God cease afterwards to excite in the posterity of Abraham, and in many others, the hope of a Saviour by renewing the recollection of the same promise; for after the establishment of the Jewish republic and religion, it became better known to His people. Many types signified and prophets foretold the numerous and invaluable blessings which our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, was to bring to mankind. And indeed the prophets, whose minds were illuminated with light from above, foretold the birth of the Son of God, the wondrous works which He wrought while on earth, His doctrine, manners, kindred, death, resurrection, and the other mysterious circumstances regarding Him,(9) and all these as graphically as if they were passing before their eyes. With the exception of future and past time only, we can discover no difference between the predictions of the Prophets and the preaching of the Apostles, between the faith of the ancient patriarchs and that of Christians.
Meaning of the Name of Jesus, by Whom and Why
When Jesus Christ our Saviour came into the world, He assumed these three characters of Prophet, Priest, and King, and is therefore called " Christ," having been anointed for the discharge of these functions, not by mortal hand or with earthly ointment, but by the power of His heavenly Father and with a spiritual oil; for the plenitude of the Holy Spirit and a more copious effusion of all gifts than any created being is capable of receiving were poured into His soul. This the prophet clearly indicates when he addresses the Redeemer in these words: "Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."(17) The same is also more explicitly declared by the prophet Isaias: "The spirit of the Lord," says he, " is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me: he hath sent me to preach to the meek." (18)
Jesus Christ, therefore, was the great prophet and teacher,(19) from whom we have learned the will of God and by whom the world has been taught the knowledge of the Father; and the name of Prophet belongs to him preeminently, because all others who were dignified with that name were his disciples, sent principally to announce the coming of that Prophet who was to save all men.
Christ was also a Priest, not indeed of the tribe of Levi, as were the priests of the Old Law, but of that of which the prophet David sang: " Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech."(20) This subject the Apostle fully and accurately develops in his epistle to the Hebrews.(21)
Christ not only as God, but as man, we also acknowledge to be a King. Of him the angel testifies: "He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."(22) This kingdom of Christ is spiritual and eternal, begun on earth but perfected in heaven: and indeed He discharges by His admirable providence the duties of King towards His Church, governing and protecting her against the open violence and covert designs of her enemies, imparting to her not only holiness and righteousness, but also power and strength to persevere. But although the good and the bad are contained within the limits of this kingdom, and thus all by right belong to it, yet those who in conformity with His commands lead unsullied and innocent lives, experience beyond all others the sovereign goodness and beneficence of our King. Although descended from the most illustrious race of kings, He obtained this kingdom not by hereditary or other human right, but because God bestowed on Him as man all the power, dignity, and majesty of which human nature is susceptible. To Him, therefore, God delivered the government of the whole world, and to this His sovereignty, which has already commenced, all things shall be made fully and entirely subject on the day of judgment.(23)
by the Rev. Bertrand L. Conway, C.S.P.
It has often been stated, beloved brethren, by the rationalistic critics and broad churchmen of today who deny the divinity of Christ, that never once during His public ministry did our Saviour declare Himself to be the true Messiah. Theory after theory has been devised to uphold this contention. Some have denied the historical character of the Messianic utterances of the Gospels; others have appealed confidently to the supposed denials of our Saviour; others have insisted on the stupidity of the Apostles who failed to understand their Master's message; others have imagined a Messianic legend framed by the first enthusiastic preachers of the resurrection. It is not our purpose, beloved brethren, to discuss these views of the modem unbeliever. But in view of the fact that these theories are being voiced today in the popular magazines and newspapers, it is good for us to consider briefly the true witness of the Gospels to Jesus, the Messiah.
Nothing is clearer in the Gospels than the fact that the Jews in the time of Our Lord were ardently longing for the coming of the King of Israel, the Messiah. Most of the people had lost sight of Isaias, Man of Sorrows, who was to govern a universal spiritual kingdom. They rather looked forward to a powerful king, who with and under Jehovah would reign supreme over all the kings and nations of the earth. He was to appear before the people with the evident stamp of God's approval to inaugurate a new, eternal kingdom, "high above the kings of the earth" (Ps. lxxxviii. 28). He was to crush all the enemies of Israel, free them from the galling yoke of the Romans, and make the Jewish people the Lords of all the world. " In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed: all nations shall magnify him" (Ps. lxxi. 17). Every one of Israel's prophets had pointed to Him; every one of Israel's righteous kings had foreshadowed Him; every one of Israel's priests had offered sacrifices for His coming. He was to be their great Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Christian Messiah, as witnessed to in the Gospels, was in very truth a Prophet, Priest, and King. He came indeed to found a new eternal kingdom, but a spiritual, not a political one. "My kingdom is not of this world" (John xviii. 36). Even the apostles found this a hard lesson to learn, for on the very morning of the Ascension they asked the risen Jesus: " Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?" (Acts i. 6).
He was to be a triumphant king indeed, but His triumph was to be gained by the apparent failure of the Cross. He had told His followers frequently that He was the suffering Messiah, but the words of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus prove to us how hard this was to believe (Luke xxiv. 21).
There is no doubt whatever that John the Baptist taught the people in the country about the Jordan that Jesus was the Messiah. Attracted by John's marvelous preaching, and won by his austere life, they at first thought him the expected Christ. But he instantly denied it, declaring that he was only the forerunner of the Messianic kingdom which was at hand (Luke iii. i, 15; Matt. iii. 2). He told them plainly that Jesus, the founder of that kingdom, is one " mightier than I, the lachet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I have baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" (Mark i. 7,8; Matt. iii. II).
These words of the Baptist prepare us for the miracles wrought at the baptism of Jesus, whose Messianic bearing is most evident. In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus Himself tells us that the Holy Spirit anointed Him at His symbolic baptism, and publicly consecrated Him to the divine office of the Messiah. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart" (Luke iv. 18). Jehovah, His heavenly Father, declared from on high that He was the Messiah: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. iii. 17). St. Matthew makes this very clear to us when he applies to Jesus the words of Isaias, who proclaimed our Saviour well pleasing to His Father because of His Messianic office: " Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul hath been well pleased. I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles" (Matt. xii. 18). St. Peter later on declares to the centurion, Cornelius, the Messianic character of Christ's baptism: " You know . . . Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost, and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed . . . for God was with him" (Acts x. 37, 38).
From the banks of the Jordan "Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil" (Matt. iv. i). The threefold temptation of Christ is clearly a revelation of His Messiahship. Satan, through the keenness of his intellect, evidently suspects that Jesus is the promised Messiah, for he greets Him with the title of " Son of God" (Matt. iv. 3). Satan well knew that the Messiah was to possess a great power of working miracles, so he demands of Christ "that these stones be made bread," and that He cast himself down from " the pinnacle of the temple." He further knew that the Messiah was to be the king of all the nations, so he proposes to Him this universal royalty to see whether or not our Saviour would declare that He already possessed it (Matt. iv. 3, 6, 9). Jesus rebukes Satan without, however, in the slightest degree waiving his claim to the title of Messiah, or Son of God.
From the very outset of His public ministry, Jesus proclaimed Himself by word and work to be the true Messiah. It is, of course, certain that this manifestation of Himself became clearer and more direct as His ministry neared its close, but there were good reasons for this.
His work in Galilee would have been seriously impeded if He had allowed the people to regard Him as their Messiah, according to the current view of the day. We all remember the popular excitement at the sight of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The people associated the Messiah with the fulfillment of all the national hopes, and cried out: "This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world." They at once desired " to take him by force and make him king," in face of the Roman power (John vi. 14, 15).
It was to guard against this popular enthusiasm, and not to gainsay in any way His belief in His own Messiahship that our Saviour forbade the open recognition of it by those whom He cured of demon possession. The demons knew Him as " the Christ," "the Holy One of God," "the Son of God," the "Son of the most high God," come to torment and destroy them (Luke iv. 41; Matt. viii. 29; Mark i. 24, 25, 34; Mark iii. 12; v. 7).
Our Saviour acted in the same way with regard to many of the miracles He wrought. When He healed the leper He said to him, "See thou tell no one" (Mark i. 44); and in raising the daughter of Jairus, " he charged them strictly that no man should know it" (Mark v. 43; compare Matt. ix. 30; Mark vii. 36; viii. 26). This by no means implied any denial on His part of the miracles He wrought. But He knew full well the evil dispositions of many of His enemies. Had not Corozain, Bethsaida, Capharnaum, and even Nazareth, refused to hearken to His preaching, and attributed His miracles to Beelzebub?
Where the influence of the Pharisees was practically powerless, as at Gerasa in the Decapolis, on the eastern bank of the Lake of Genesareth, He told the man He had cured to tell his friends the great things the Lord had done for him (Mark v. 19). So in Samaria, where the same conditions prevailed, our Saviour found no difficulty in proclaiming His Messiahship to the sinful woman of Sichar (John iv. 26).
Instead, therefore, of declaring directly and explicitly that He was the Messiah, our Saviour at first preferred to manifest Himself indirectly by His words and miracles, thus gradually destroying in the minds of the people their false view of a political Messiah, and preparing His chosen ones for the spiritual Messiah, who as Son of God and Son of man was to die on the Cross for man's salvation.
The "gospel, or good news, of the kingdom," was the subject of His discourses in the cities and synagogues of Galilee (Matt. iv. 23; ix. 35; Luke vii. i; ix. 11), and the theme of the beautiful Sermon on the Mount (Matt. vi. 33), and the parables at the lakeside (Mark iv. n, 26, 30). As the Lord of the kingdom, he chooses its preachers, and invests them with His own divine authority, (Matt. x. 7; Mark iii. 14; Luke x. 9). Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, He teaches as one having authority (Matt. v. 22, 44; vii. 29), correcting their false human traditions, giving a new authoritative interpretation to the law of Sinai, and so perfecting it that the people "were astonished at his doctrine" (Mark i. 22). What made them marvel the more, and made them believe that Jesus was the Messiah of their people, was the fact that He was looked upon as a carpenter's son from the despised Nazareth of Galilee, and a teacher who had never studied (Mark vi. 2, 3; John i. 46; vii. 52, 15).
Again the miracles our Saviour wrought prepared the people for His final explicit revelation of His Messiahship. He commanded the winds and the waves (Mark iv. 35-50), He healed the sick (Mark i. 31), He drove demons from the possessed (Mark i. 23), He cleansed the lepers (Mark i. 42), He raised the dead (Mark v. 42). No wonder the people cried out: " What is this new doctrine? for with power He commandeth the unclean spirits " (Mark i. 27). "Who is this that both wind and sea obey him?" (iv. 40). Surely "a great prophet is risen up among us" (Luke vii. 16).
Moreover, this humble Jesus, the friend of the lowly and sinners, tells the people continually that He is greater than any of their prophets--greater than Jonas, Solomon, or the Baptist (Matt. xii. 41, 42; xi. 9). He claims the prerogatives of Jehovah. He acts as master of the Sabbath, healing the paralytic and allowing His disciples to pluck the ears of corn on that day (Mark iii. 1-6; ii. 23). And when the Pharisees object. He declares Himself " greater than the temple," and Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. xii. 5-8). He pardons the paralytic his sins, and when His authority is gainsaid by His enemies. He works a miracle to prove it (Mark ii. 1-12). At the house of Simon, He receives back the penitent Magdalene, to the disgust of the straitlaced, hypocritical upholders of the law (Luke vii. 36-50). He gives His disciples the power to work miracles, which they exercise in His name (Mark iii. 15).
But not only did our Saviour insinuate His Messiahship by His authoritative teaching, His miracles, and His claim to divine powers, but He more than once asserted it Himself, or allowed His friends to do so.
When, for instance, the disciples of John asked Jesus whether He was the Messiah (Matt. xi. 3), He answered them by quoting the words which the prophet Isaias had used long before to indicate the Christ (Is. xxxv. 5; lxi. i). " Go," He said to them, "and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matt. xi. 4-5).
Again in praising John to the people after the disciples had departed, He praises him solely on account of his being the precursor of Himself, the true Messiah (Matt. xi. 10).
The first words of Andrew to his brother Simon to win him to Our Lord were : " We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (John i. 41). And Philip says to his friend Nathaniel: " We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write" (John i. 45). Later on Nathaniel talking to Jesus acknowledges His claim: "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel" (John i. 49).
Still more explicit is the testimony of Peter near the town of Caesarea Philippi. Our Saviour had asked the apostles a direct question: "But whom do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. xvi. 15, 16). It was a time most fitting such a clear, explicit acknowledgment of Christ's divinity and Messiahship. The ministry in Galilee was drawing to a close; they were about to journey to Jerusalem, where Jesus was fully aware that the Cross awaited Him.
This testimony is made all the more striking inasmuch as Jesus declares it proceeds from a divine revelation: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona; because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 17).
It moreover is confirmed by the witness of His heavenly Father at the transfiguration. As at the Jordan baptism, a voice came out of the cloud saying: "This is my most beloved Son, hear ye him." Moses and Elias appeared as representatives of the law and the prophets, giving their homage to Jesus as the founder of the New Covenant, the fulfillment of the Old. The glory of Jesus, "whose garments became shining and exceeding white as snow" (Mark ix. 1-7), gave the three apostles a foretaste of the glory of the triumphant Messiah.
During this last year, our Saviour frequently insists on this future triumph. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels " (Matt. xvi. 27). "And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him" (Matt. xxv. 31-32).
And yet continually He tries to impress upon their minds that He is the Man of Sorrows foretold by Isaias, who is come "to give his life a redemption for many" (Mark x. 45), who is to suffer and to be "rejected by this generation" (Luke xvii. 25).
On His entry into Jerusalem the people made a great public demonstration in acknowledgment of Jesus the Messiah, to the great anger of the Pharisees. They cut down boughs from the trees, strewed their garments in the way, and shouted: "Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh," "Blessed be the king who cometh in the name of the Lord" (Mark xi. 8-10; Luke xix. 38). Jesus accepted this homage without a word of disapproval. The Pharisees came to Him and impudently demanded that He rebuke His disciples for their Messianic feelings. But instead of doing so, Our Lord said to them: "I say to you, that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out" (Luke xix. 40).
The last testimony of our Saviour to His Messiahship was made before the high-priest, and sealed the sentence of death upon Him. "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the blessed God?" He was asked. And Jesus said to him: "I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark xiv. 61, 62).
We have thus in brief outline, beloved brethren, sketched the Gospel witness to the Messiahship of Jesus the Son of God. It is important for us to know it well, in view of the modern denial of the unbeliever, and the Jew. I have met on my missions to non-Catholics, men and women of orthodox Judaism, who, alert to know the truth, have been won by a prayerful study of these texts to accept Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah of their people. Some have faced persecution as bitter as their forefathers faced, when they became the first followers of the risen Christ. Let our prayers go forth for them all. that they kneel down one day with the doubting Thomas, crying out, "My Lord, my God."
Sermon: Christ is He Who Should Come
by the Rev. K. Krogh-Tonnig
Such words express most lively faith in Christ; and what was Our Lord's testimony regarding His faithful and humble forerunner? He said: "Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. xi. II).
We often hear that faith in Christ and Christianity is opposed to all reason, and so men cannot be required to believe. But, on the other hand, if faith has nothing to do with reason, or rather is opposed to it, what can make us believe? We cannot believe unless we have some motive; we cannot fling ourselves blindly into some unknown abyss. Moreover, why should Christ have tried to support and strengthen St. John's faith by adducing arguments that would appeal to his reason? For this is what He did, when He referred to His miracles.
To the deaf He said, "Ephpheta," and their hearing was restored. To the lepers, "I will, be thou made clean," and their disease disappeared. To the dead, " Arise," and they stood up and came forth from the grave. But there is a still greater miracle, which He wrought when by His own power He raised Himself from the dead and resumed His life. Mary Magdalene, the Apostles, and more than five hundred witnesses bore testimony to the fact of His resurrection. Now, who but God has control over life and death? Christ's resurrection differed from the raising of Lazarus and of Jairus's daughter; they were raised, and received afresh the gift of life, but our Lord overcame the might of death and rose, as He Himself said: "I have power to lay it [His life] down; and I have power to take it up again " (John x. 18). Hence He must be the Son of God, for God alone has power over life and death.
In His name miracles have been wrought in every age by His Saints, and there is an abundance of most trustworthy evidence in support of them. They continue even at the present day, but the greatest and most undeniable of all miracles is the existence of Christ's Church. She is a society like no other; she combats the evil desires and passions of mankind, and resists their pride and selfishness, and yet she has spread over the entire world and has everywhere triumphed.
Are we not justified in believing Christ's words when we know that miracles are wrought by Him and by His friends in His name? Is it unreasonable to assume that His Church is the kingdom of God, when in this kingdom, as in no other society on earth, all the forces of the world to come are seen to reside? I think that those who consider our faith in Jesus Christ and His Church to be foolish and unreasonable have never really examined either one or the other.
Our Lord referred to the prophecies regarding His person, as well as to His own miracles, and showed that in Himself the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled, since it had been foretold that the Messias should work miracles. Historians speak of ancient, medieval, and modern history, but to those who have a clear insight into events there are only two periods; viz., the time before and the time since our Lord's life on earth. All that went before was in anticipation of His coming; all that has followed refers to Him, and is inexplicable without Him. All our science, art, and civilization dates from the renewal of the world that He effected. But the prophecies looked forward to Him; and His life history, both in outline and in detail, is recorded in the books of the Old Testament, from the first allusion to Him as the Seed of the woman, to the account of His forerunner. All this was written hundreds of years before His birth--if He is not the Son of God, who is He? If it is unreasonable to believe in Him, in whom may we reasonably put our faith?
III. The Gospel.
Christ wishes not merely to silence doubters, but to win their hearts, and He does this by causing His gospel to be preached to the poor. Who are the poor? Surely all who are in want of anything. And what is meant by preaching the gospel? It means bringing glad tidings to the sorrowful and sinful, but it means more than this; for through the gospel of Christ the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, and the poor are enriched.
A countless host, that no man can number, composed of people of every age and nation, proclaims to us the impossibility of doubting that Christ was He who should come; He came to every one of them, and His coming rendered them happy, whereas before they were miserable sinners. Whither should we turn when we are beset with doubts and difficulties? We should follow St. John's example, and have recourse to our Lord Himself, Where shall we find Him? In His Church, and nowhere else. Elsewhere we shall seek Him in vain; but He promised to remain with His Church until the consummation of the world, so we may be sure of finding Him there. You will find Him in the Gospel, that is always being preached to the poor; you will find Him in the forgiveness of sins, that is always being bestowed upon the penitent; you will find Him in the living Bread that came down from Heaven to give life to the world. Come not in the spirit of pride, which thinks that it has a right to judge and criticize Christ's Church; those that come in such a spirit, come in vain. But if you approach as humble children of the Church, full of confidence in her teaching, light will again shine in your souls and peace will reign in your hearts.
2. Matt xvi. 17.
3. Gen. ii. 16, 17.
4. Sess. 5, Can. 1 and 2; Sess. 6, Can. 1 and 2.
5. Gen. iii. 15.
6. Gen. xxii. 16, 17, 18.
7. Gen. xxviii. 12.
8. Gen. xxviii. 13, 14.
9. Is. vii. 14; viii. 3; ix. 5; xi. 1-53; Jer. xxiii. 6; xxx. 9; Dan. vii. 13;
10. Luke i. 31.
11. Matt. i. 20, 21.
12. Eccl. xlvi. I.
13. Agg. i. I.
14. Is. vii. 14; viii. 8; ix. 6; Jer. xxiii. 6.
15 I Kings xii. 3; xvi. 6; xxiv. 7.
16. Lev. viii. 30; 3 Kings xix. 15, i6.
17. Ps. xliv. 8.
18. Is. lxi. i.
19. Deut. xviii. 15.
20. Ps. cix. 4; Heb. v. 5.
21. Heb. v. vii.
22. Luke i. 33.
23. I Cor. xv. 25-27.